What to expect when you attend a Bereaved Parent Support day or weekend

There will be short talks from the front, time spent in small groups around the table, and an opportunity to do some practical things to help us to remember our children. All those involved in speaking from the front and in the groups are bereaved parents. It is a safe place to be among those who understand.

There are some similar talks and activities to those at a Bereaved Parent Support Day, but we also address certain areas in more detail in a workshop setting to give greater opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences. One major advantage in being together for the weekend is that there is more time – more time to talk, more time to listen, more time to learn, more time to meet people and make friends. The whole experience is very much less hurried and more relaxed. Having said that, one delegate did ask if we could have a longer weekend!

This varies greatly for each individual. People have come along as soon as four weeks following the death; others have attended 20 years after their child died. There is no right or wrong time. It can be a helpful experience both in those first few painful months and also after years have gone by when there are still difficult hurdles to overcome.

Numbers vary and so we can’t be definite, but in the past there have been around 30 people on average, plus our team of volunteer befrienders (all of whom are bereaved parents themselves).

There are usually lots of tears at our events and that’s OK – we always have plenty of tissues. It’s a time and place where it is safe to be yourself and to express your grief amongst those who really understand. There are usually times of laughter, too, as we get to know one another.

That’s fine. There is no ‘have to’ about the support event at all. We put people together into smaller groups so that they are with others who have lost a child of a similar age or in similar circumstances. You are free to say as much or as little about your story as you like. You can listen to others and contribute if you feel able. If you feel you need to go out, get some air, or have a walk – that’s no problem. You can take from the event what you feel is helpful to you.

No matter how old our child is, we are still their parent and never expected, at any stage of our lives, to have to plan their funeral. The death of our child is never part of the natural or expected order of life. So, even if they were grown up, married and had children of their own, they are still our ‘child’ whom we love and had hopes and dreams for.

We recognise the deep pain and grief that can be felt when people suffer loss at any stage in their pregnancy. We are sorry to say that unfortunately we do not have the capacity or expertise in our volunteer team to offer specific support at the Weekend for those who have experienced miscarriage. Please do get in touch with us though, through our Careline service at mail@cff.org.uk or by phoning 029 2081 0800. Our team would love to talk to you, hear your story and signpost you to appropriate support.

Of course. Losing a baby before birth is especially difficult. We made plans and preparations for this precious child, and we had hopes and dreams of all they would do and be. When those dreams all disappear before we ever have the chance to meet, hold and get to know our baby, it is particularly painful. Friends and relatives who never met this baby may find it difficult to recognise their significance, but to us, the parents, this only adds to our feelings of loneliness. Some of our volunteer befrienders have lost babies before and soon after birth.

Some who come along are couples, some are step-parents, and some come on their own. Some are single parents and others come alone because their partner is unable to come or doesn’t want to. Sometimes when a person comes on their own, they bring along a ‘supporter’ who may be a close friend or relative, and is usually someone who knew their child well and misses them too.

Amidst suffering the pain of the death of their child, some parents feel they have society’s disapproval of the way their child died. Perhaps it was suicide, a drug overdose, or alcohol or substance abuse. You may feel you are denied the comfort and understanding that we all so desperately need. At a Bereaved Parent Support Weekend you are one of us – parents of a beloved son or daughter. You are free to share as much or as little of your story as you feel comfortable with.

Yes! We want to make you feel special, so there will be lots of chocolate, good food and plenty of tissues. We really want to help you feel as safe, comfortable and cared for as we are able.

Please contact us if you are still wondering whether coming to an event is for you. Call 029 2081 0800 or email mail@cff.org.uk – we would be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

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